Oregon Ducks

Gonzaga inspired by former UO player Greg Bell's book: "Water the Bamboo"

Gonzaga inspired by former UO player Greg Bell's book: "Water the Bamboo"

GLENDALE, Ariz. - On any given day, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will remind his team to always strive to get at least one percent better each day. To, "water the bamboo."

It's a reference to a motivational book called "Water the Bamboo," written by Few's good friend and former college roommate at Oregon, Greg Bell, who played guard for the Ducks basketball team from 1981-1985. 

"Basically the whole premise and the thought and the major point behind it is bamboo, when you plant it, you water it and water it -- and I'm going to kill this -- but for four years or something, nothing happens," Few said Thursday during a press conference at the University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the Final Four. "But then in the first year it grows -- after that, that subsequent year -- then it grows 50 feet or something...So it's about, you know, the process of preparation and physically, mentally showing up, doing your job with practice and focusing in on the things that you can control. We call that the process. And then eventually you're going to reap the rewards of that."

Close enough. The overriding principle is to pay attention to the little things, focus on the details and allow oneself to flourish overtime in any aspect of life, professionally or personally. Bell, a motivational speaker who specializes in individual growth and team building, published his book in 2009.  

Bell, who holds political science and law degrees from the Oregon and has appeared on CSN's Ducks Hoops Tonight, said he often has dinner with Few when he and Gonzaga are in Portland to face the Portland Pilots. They did the same prior to the Bulldogs' 83-64 win at Portland on Jan. 23. But this time, Few had the wild idea.

"Typically we go grab Thai food with Mark the day before the U of P game," Bell said. "Rarely do we talk hoops, just family and kids. But this year after dinner he asked that I say a few words to the team. I happened to have some "Water the Bamboo" wristbands in my car and I talked to them after their film session."

Bell said his message is more about the watering (the process) than the bamboo (the result). 

"It's about showing up everyday," Bell said. "Focus on the watering and the results will take care of itself."

The players loved the message Bell delivered.

"You’ve got to take it one day at a time and get better everyday," redshirt sophomore guard Josh Perkins said when asked about Bell's speech to the team. "Small opportunities, I think people overlook. I think that concept helps you make the best of every situation and improve in every way. Because if you get one percent better everyday, you get better.”

Junior guard Silas Melson, out of Portland's Jefferson High School, said Gonzaga players constantly remind one another to "water the bamboo." Some even tweet motivational notes using #WaterTheBamboo 

"Throughout the whole season it might take a long time to reach your peak as a team but by March you want to meet your peak and that’s why we keep watering that bamboo," Melson said.

Now Gonzaga (36-1) is in its first ever Final Four where it faces South Carolina (26-10) on Saturday. 

So, has "water the bamboo" worked for Gonzaga?

"I just want to tell everybody, I give 100 percent to "Water the Bamboo" and the book and the approach," Few said with a laugh while plugging the book for his friend. "It's a life changer."

Hyperbole aside, Few, named AP Coach of the Year, said he believes his team certainly benefited from Bell's talk. 

"Look, to have Greg, I mean, he was in my wedding, one of my closest friends, to be able to come talk to our team in Portland and give us the book and give us the little bracelets and all that was great," Few said. "And I think it resonated with them. The thing he said that I wholeheartedly believe that we kind of used as a mantra this year was just try to get, like, one percent better each week. Just one percent better. Whatever it's at. And if you can do that every week, well, then we have something."

Players still wear the wristbands.

“No matter what happened the day before you want to grow from it," Melson said. "Or if you’re having a bad day you want to grow.”

Bell gave a talk to the Oregon football team in 2009 that then coach Chip Kelly talked about during a press conference. Bell has also given talks to the Portland Trail Blazers. He started Coaches versus Cancer program that North Carolina coach Roy Williams is involved with, according to Bell. He said that he has had great conversations with Oregon coach Dana Altman, who has opened his door to all former players.  The Ducks face the Tar Heels in the second Final Four game on Saturday. 

That gives Bell connections to three of the four teams at the Final Four. It also sets up a possible conflict of emotional interest should Oregon and Gonzaga advance to Monday's championship game.

"I would be so conflicted," Bell said. "But it's like if your brother played against your alma mater you'd root for your brother. In so many ways I want it to happen, but in so many ways I don't."

Kelly Graves' advice to young coaches, "love your players."

Kelly Graves' advice to young coaches, "love your players."

"If you're a young, budding coach out there somewhere that's listening; love your players. Love 'em. Be there for 'em and in the end, they're gonna be there for you." 

This is the advice Oregon Women's Basketball coach Kelly Graves has for young coaches out there. 

Graves has built a powerhouse at Oregon. The Ducks went 31-2 this season, finishing as the No.2 team in the country and were a favorite to win the NCAA Tournament. 

Unfortunately for the Ducks, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the tournament, thus ending the season early.

Graves has no doubt that his squad would have won it all had the season played out. 

If you were around our team, you would see a team that is very lighthearted. We have fun. We kid each other. We're very sarcastic. And I think that's the beauty of what we do.  I'm convinced we woulda won this thing. The pressure wasn't gonna get to this group. - Kelly Graves

That loose and free spirit that led to so much success over the years all started with strong relationships between a coach and his players, something Graves says integral for team success. 

"If you build strong relationships with your players, even though I can be hard on them from time to time, they understand and they know that I love them," said Graves.  "I care for them more than just how many points or rebounds they can get in a game. I think once you get to that point as a coach, and that player relationship, the players are gonna do anything for you." 

While this approach has led to success on the court, the wins and losses don't matter. What matters is the ability to build strong bonds. To show a player that you are in their corner, not just during the game, but for the rest of life. 10, 15, 20 years down the road, your players know you will be there for them, and vice versa.

If I had to talk to my 25-year-old or 30-year-old self, what would I say? I think the first thing is, don't focus on the wins and losses. They're irrelevant in terms of the richness of your own life.- Kelly Graves

Be sure the listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks podcast with host Jordan Kent

DeSean Jackson stayed in the NFC East to play Chip Kelly twice a year

DeSean Jackson stayed in the NFC East to play Chip Kelly twice a year

We all know that Chip Kelly made few friends while as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

[RELATED]: Chip Kelly was 'the worst communicator,' rubbed people the wrong way with Eagles

Well, add DeSean Jackson to the list. 

After Chip Kelly's first season in Philadelphia, he cut DeSean Jackson after failing to find a trade for the then-27-year-old receiver coming off a season where he had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.

However, NJ.com reported that the Eagles had concerns over "Jackson's continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010." This in addition to "a bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly" caused Jackson to reportedly fall out of favor with the organization.

Jackson came out with a statement denying the claims shortly after. 

In a conversation with current Eagles teammate Lane Johnson for NBC Sports Philadelphia, Jackson spoke about how he took the Eagles' decision to cut him. 

“Honestly, bro, the past is the past, but I will say when I was released by the Eagles it was definitely a shove in my face, you know?” said Jackson. “The story that was made up and the reason behind it was hard for me to respect. I would have respected it a lot more, man, if they would have just came to me and just told me basically it’s a money issue or we’re going a different route. But no, you want to come up and say I’m a hoodlum and I’m doing all this crazy [stuff]? That [stuff] was personal to me.”

After becoming a free agent, Jackson wanted to stay in the NFC East division for one reason: to play the Eagles, and Chip Kelly, twice a season. 

“I remember the Redskins were one of the teams that hopped in and was really trying to sign me because of all the damage I did to them earlier in my career,” Jackson said. “Dan Snyder personally sent me his private jet. I was in L.A. and he sent me his private jet, he was like, ‘Get on the plane and we’ll figure out the contract.’ [Robert Griffin III] actually came to my house in Calabasas and he was like, ‘Man, please bro, just come play with me.’ I just wanted to go play against y’all twice a year. I’m staying in the division because I want them to see me twice a year... I was going to let them see what they were missing out on.”

In Week 15 of the 2014 regular-season, Jackson saw dividends on his decision when the Washington Redskins defeated the Eagles 27-24, dropping Philly to 9-6. The former Eagle had four catches for 126 yards. The Eagles would finish 10-6 that season and miss the playoffs. 

After coaching the Eagles to back-to-back 10-6 seasons to begin his coaching career, Chip Kelly was awarded with control over personnel decisions by ownership. He then went on to trade away LeSean McCoy, trade for Sam Bradford, and sign Demarco Murray while using a zone-blocking scheme.

Kelly would ultimately only have control over the Eagles' personnel decisions for one offseason. His roster moves were so bad that Kelly would be fired 15 games into his third season after starting 6-9. He then would coach the San Francisco 49ers for a season, going 2-14 before being fired again and accepting the head coaching job at UCLA. 

Looks like cutting Jackson was the beginning of the end for Kelly. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

2021 four-star WR Xavier Worthy AKA ‘The Real Flash’ places Oregon in top-6

2021 four-star WR Xavier Worthy AKA ‘The Real Flash’ places Oregon in top-6

The University of Oregon could potentially be getting a little taste of the DC Universe in 2021.

Announced on Monday, 2021 four-star wide receiver Xavier Worthy AKA ‘The Real Flash’ has narrowed down his recruitment to six schools, Oregon being one of them.

The Ducks are the sole Pac-12 conference team in Worthy’s top-6.

The 6-foot-1, 160-pound wide receiver from Central East High School in Fresno, California is the No. 11 recruit from the state of California and the No. 24 receiver in the national ranks in the class of 2021, according to 247sports.

Here’s why Worthy is called ‘The Real Flash’:

Should Worthy commit to the Ducks, he would join other 2021 wide receiver commit Kyron Ware-Hudson. 

Oregon's also in the running for Troy Franklin, the nation's No. 2 wide receiver, and Dont'e Thornton, the nation's No. 6 wide receiver per 247Sports

The Oregon Football 2021 class is sure shaping up nicely.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Sabrina Ionescu taking a stand for George Floyd & Black Lives Matter

Sabrina Ionescu taking a stand for George Floyd & Black Lives Matter

The recent death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has sparked outrage, confusion, and protests all across the nation, which has prompted many people from across different spectrums to speak out.

Athletes are among those strongly voicing their opinions on this matter and how things need to change drastically.

From LeBron James to Michael Jordan, the Trail Blazers organization, OSU's Wayne Tinkle and Jonathan Smith and Oregon's Mario Cristobal, many are coming out in support against racism and social injustice

Former Oregon Duck Sabrina Ionescu is the latest to vocalize her support against injustice.

This past week has been a tough one for all Americans.

It is important, now than ever before, that people come together to recognize there is a problem that needs to be addressed, specifically between law enforcement and African Americans. 

The issue has been ongoing and people are fed up with it.

Will George Floyd’s death spark change? Most would hope so, but as of now, it is too early to tell.

What matters is that athletes, including Ionescu, are using their platform and speaking out.

Justice needs to be served for George Floyd and his wrongful death.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Justin Herbert’s odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year

Justin Herbert’s odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year

With the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the LA Chargers selected Oregon Ducks quarterback, Justin Herbert.  

Days following the draft, Chargers fans had mixed feelings about their team drafting Herbert, but as of late, it seems that most fans have bought into Herbert being the future.

Despite the former Oregon Ducks QB likely not seeing much playing time, if any at all, during the 2020 season with nine-year veteran Tyrod Taylor appearing to be the starting quarterback, Herbert is still a sleeper to earn the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is the favorite to win the honor.

Burrow’s odds are listed at +240 at MGM. If the former LSU quarterback wins the award, it will be the second straight year that the first overall pick is the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Last season, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray earned the honor.

The next-best odds belong to the last pick of the first round, Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is listed at +600. Followed by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at +900, while Herbert is at +2000. Packers quarterback Jordan Love and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts are both at +8000.

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers were meant to be

Draft Kings released the odds for the winner of the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award just days after the 2020 NFL Draft. They also listed Herbert as a dark horse pick at +1600.

With Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn high on Taylor at the moment that will allow Herbert a year to grow into a starting quarterback while also providing the primary competition in training camp.

[RELATED]: Betting odds of Justin Herbert being LA Chargers' starter Week One

At the NFL Combine, the 6'6", 237 pound Herbert showed off his athleticism with a 40 yard dash time of 4.68 seconds (3rd among QBs), a vertical jump of 35.5 inches (tied for 2nd among QBs), broad jump of 123 inches (3rd among QBs), 3 cone drill of 7.06 seconds (1st among QBs), and a 20-yard shuttle of 4.46 seconds (4th among QBs).

But, as one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chargers may have to take a chance on the young QB this season just as the betting world might as well.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Oregon Ducks HC Mario Cristobal attends Black Lives Matter rally in Eugene

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USA Today Images

Oregon Ducks HC Mario Cristobal attends Black Lives Matter rally in Eugene

On Friday, Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal released a statement in response to the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that have broken out in response. 

[RELATED]: Oregon football, CFB coaches call for change amid death of George Floyd

“Posting on social media isn't enough. We must carry out these principles and values in our daily lives," said Cristobal in the statement. 

“We are responsible for using our voices for change. We are responsible for protecting those that don't feel safe or are afraid to share their perspective. We are responsible for creating a new normal.”

Sunday, the Duck's head coach is putting his money where his mouth is by his actions.

Two days after making the statement, Cristobal was seen at a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Federal Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon by Henry Houston of the Eugene Weekly. 

The death of George Floyd went viral last week after a video showed police officer Derek Chauvin using his knee to pin Floyd's neck to the pavement for eight minutes and 46 seconds, two minutes and 53 seconds of which happened after Floyd became unresponsive, per a criminal complaint against Chauvin.

The officer ignored Floyd's pleas for him to stop: "I can't breathe... Please, the knee in my neck, I can't breathe."

The lack of charges brought upon Chauvin nor the other three officers standing by the Minneapolis Police Department sparked nationwide outrage leading to national protests and riots against police brutality and public pressure to arrest the four officers. 

Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s family said in a statement with their attorney, Ben Crump, that they “expected a first-degree murder charge.”

Mycah Pittman has a YouTube channel and it involves a flamethrower

Mycah Pittman has a YouTube channel and it involves a flamethrower

Many have gotten a lot of extra time on their hands due to the coronavirus pandemic and Oregon Ducks wide receiver Mycah Pittman has begun taking advantage of it.

How so? While he's still putting in work on the field getting ready for his true sophomore season, he's also begun producing content for his YouTube channel in the form of vlogs and Q&A videos.

After releasing just three videos so far, Pittman has gained over 10,000 subscribers. It also helps that his brother, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., had 159,000+ subscribers. 

Pittman's first video was a typical Q&A video where he answers questions provided to him by Ducks fans, including his favorite game from his freshman season and how disappointed he was to get injured not once but twice last year. 

The second video, and his first vlog, saw him with his friends set up and execute a prank on his brother.

Hint: The prank involved a flame thrower and if you want to see the payoff, the video is embedded below.

The latest video uploaded by Pittman showcases a typical workout from him along with some professional athletes such as his brother and John Ross of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Mycah Pittman said his goal is to play in the NFL during his Q&A video, so it makes sense he'd practice with the best in the offseason when he can't be in Eugene. 

From the video, it's clear that Pittman's putting in the work necessary for a breakout sophomore campaign that may have well happened last season had he not had awful injury luck.

As a freshman, Mycah had 18 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns in seven games. The former four-star recruit broke his collarbone during fall camp causing him to miss the first four games of the season and broke an arm against Arizona, causing him to sit out each game until the Rose Bowl. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Oregon football, CFB coaches call for change amid death of George Floyd

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George Floyd's family attorney

Oregon football, CFB coaches call for change amid death of George Floyd

The death of George Floyd has affected many aspects of life and college football is no different.

This past Monday, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, lost his life after a white police officer held Floyd down on the ground with his knee to Floyd's neck for several minutes.  

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The officer who held Floyd down, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

Since Floyd's death, there have been protests, riots and looting in Minneapolis where the incident occurred and across the country.

Outrage is being felt across the country, which has prompted athletes and coaches across the country to weigh in on the matter. 

Various players and coaches of University of Oregon football team have reacted Floyd's death and the action that should be taken to prevent incidents like Floyd's death from happening again. 

Other college football coaches have weighed in, as well. 

 

Arik Armstead among Forbes' highest paid athletes, but there's a catch

Arik Armstead among Forbes' highest paid athletes, but there's a catch

This year’s Forbes list of highest-paid athletes in the world features a range of athletes across different sports.

While more NBA players made the list than any other sport (34 players), NFL players had their best year as a group thanks to the season’s late-summer start.

There are currently 31 NFL players on the list. Carson Wentz ranks the highest out of all of them with coming in at No.10.

Former Oregon defensive tackle Arik Armstead also made the Top 100. He came in at No. 59 with earnings of $26.8 million. After signing a blockbuster five-year, $85 million contract extension back in March, which included $45.85M in guarantees, it would make sense that him to be on this list.

Here is the thing, though. You most likely won’t be seeing Armstead in next year’s Forbes list.

Confusing? Yes, but let’s break down Armstead’s complicated contract.

As mentioned before, Armstead signed a 5 year, $85,000,000 contract with the San Francisco 49ers, including a $3,500,000 signing bonus, $40,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $17,000,000.

A lot of money upfront as you can see. But with it is a lot more complicated than that.

OvertheCap explains it a little bit more.

Armstead received $45.85 million in guarantees, $34.15 million of which is guaranteed at signing. His initial guarantee is made up of his 2020 and 2021 base salaries, a $17.5 million signing bonus, and a protected $7.5 million 2021 option bonus. If Armstead is on the roster on April 1, 2022, another $5.85 million becomes fully guaranteed. There are $750,000 in per-game bonuses in the final four contract years. The 2025 season is a void contract year used for the purposes of lowering cap charges during the contract. The contract voids if no extension is reached by the fifth day of the 2025 waiver period.”

Here is a breakdown of the cap hit by year:

2020: $6M

2021: $12.5M

2022: $20M

2023: $21.74M

2024: $23.26M

2025: $18.5M (Voids on 5th day of waiver claim which is after the Super Bowl)

So, yes, Armstead will still receive $34.15 million in full guarantees and $45.85 in total guarantees.

The contract is a little different from the norm of how contracts work, but they're becoming more common.

Long story short, it’s a three-year deal. The 49ers can get out after Year 2 if the option bonus is exercised, and that would mean $6.65 of his base salary is guaranteed instead of $14.15 million.

The 49ers basically got Armstead under $19 million against the cap for the next two years combined.

Armstead did make enough money for the Forbes list this year, but don’t be on the lookout for Armstead to be on next year.

The 49ers made him a wealthy man, but the organization is playing the money game well but spreading it out over the next five years.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.